There are some plays that go down in the lore of a program for their historical significance, the impact on a season and the mark they leave on the record books. There are few bigger in the history of Chattanooga Mocs football than Matt Vick’s game-winning field goal against No. 6 Appalachian State on Oct. 28, 2000.
Vick is one of five members of the Class of 2014 UTC Athletics Hall of Fame. His induction brings back memories of one of the biggest wins in school history and a record-setting kick more than 14 seasons ago.
A first-team All-American in 2000, Vick handled the Mocs’ kicking duties from 1997-00. He was a two-sport athlete, also competing on the golf team, and was a contestant on the Golf Channel’s “The Big Break: Mesquite” reality TV show after graduation.
However, most Mocs fans remember him for the 40-yarder he nailed against the Mountaineers that afternoon at Finley Stadium.
“I had a few (big kicks), but the biggest one was the game-winner with no time on the clock against Appalachian State my senior year,” stated Vick.
For him to single out that play says a lot. He is also the same guy who scored the last points in Chamberlain Field and made the first field goal at Finley Stadium.
“The last game at Chamberlain Field was a lot of fun,” he continued. “I remember helping tear down the goal post and my fraternity brothers taking one of the uprights. They gave me a piece of it that I still have. But the kick against App State is still the biggest.”
Chattanooga entered the fourth quarter trailing the Mountaineers 27-20. UTC tied the game with eight minutes left after Charles McNeill scored on an eight-yard run. Vick pinned ASU on its own 15 on the kickoff and the defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive. Chattanooga got the ball back on its 20 with a little less than four minutes left in the game and marched deep into Mountaineer territory.
Vick came on to nail the game-winner for one of the biggest upsets in school history. Not only did that kick win the game, but it also set the UTC all-time scoring record and tied the Southern Conference mark for most consecutive field goals made.
“That was a great day for our special teams,” recalled Vick. “We had a kick-off game going where I would kick into the corner and they couldn’t get out. They started their drive inside the 20 and our defense was able to hold them.”
He also made three field goals that day and was named National Special Teams Player of the Week by Football Gazette.
“It was the only time my grandmother got to watch me play. She and my grandfather were there and got to see me break the scoring record. I thought I would break it the next week against The Citadel, but I didn’t expect to score 10 points in that game. They have both passed on now, but it made that day even more special.”
Vick finished his career with 242 points. He made his first field goal next week against The Citadel to set the SoCon mark with 13 consecutive made. Both records still stand today.
Vick connected on a school-record 22 field goals and scored 97 points as a senior in 2000. He was named First Team All-American by the Sporting News and Football Gazette, while the Associated Press gave him a second team nod.
His 44 field goals are the most in school history and his 73.3% (44/60) career accuracy is second all-time at Chattanooga. He was also a member of Chattanooga’s All-Century Team, picked in 2003.
A two-sport athlete, Vick was also on the Mocs golf team. He actually parlayed that into his career and is currently the general manager at the Beacon Ridge Golf Club in Pinehurst, N.C.
Vick and the rest of the Class of 2014 inductees into the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame will be honored at the Hall of Fame Banquet on Friday, March 28 at the Chattanooga Country Club. The event is open to the public and starts with a VIP reception at 6:00 p.m. Seats are $30 per person and include dinner that begins at 7:00 p.m. Contact the UTC Alumni Office (423-425-4785 – www.mocsconnect.com) for more details, or to reserve a seat.